Some new goo for the loo (Day 151)…

July 29, 2007

toilet bowl cleaner

Not to get too graphic, but this whole let-it-mellow thing doesn’t exactly make for a pristine toilet bowl. So it wasn’t long before I finished up the last of my toxic, abrasive cleaner and had to go find a less cancer-causing alternative. I immediately turned to my new favourite eco-brand, Ecover, which makes a natural product that comes in one of those strategically angled bottles — and I’ll of course refill it if I can find toilet bowl cleaner in bulk. It smells of pine, which I’m not so into, and required slightly more scrubbing, but overall, I’m satisfied.

Thinking with my headphones (Day 147)…

July 25, 2007

I’ll be flying back from Madrid in a couple days and, shortly thereafter, heading out to Portland for my hippie bike trip. That’s a lot of time in the air, and there are two ways to make it go faster: music and the in-flight movie. Both of these requires headphones, which they always give out on the plane, but I’m going to bring my own set from now on. Air Canada says they recycle them, but they still come in all that plastic packaging with foam coverings, plus it’s always better to reduce than recycle.

Photo courtesy of this guy on Flickr

So clean you could eat off it — and not have to call poison control! (Day 129)…

July 7, 2007


I’m loving my E-cloths, but there’s something to be said for not only having a clean kitchen and bathroom but a clean-smelling kitchen and bathroom, and unfortunately the scent of water is a bit, well, lacking. So I went out to invest in a super-mild, all-natural spray cleaner that would give everything that little twinkle you see in all the commercials and leave a fresh smell.

The one I went for is from a company called EcoMist (read more about them here … or don’t, because the video on their homepage is like cinematic ipecac), which says its product line is entirely plant-based and “utilizes the science of nano-colloidal technology” (whatever the heck that is), and is recognized by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as food-surface safe.

Indeed, the ingredients consist of nothing more than corn, coconut extract, sugarcane, tree extracts and de-ionized water. Almost sounds like you could squirt it over a mesclun salad for a zingy dressing. And to top it all off, it’s also a local product, made in Woodbridge, ON — just outside Toronto.

It’s not exactly strong stuff: You can’t spray it on a glob of toothpaste and watch as it eviscerates it into liquid, and it feels less like you’re killing bacteria than just wiping it away. But there’s plenty of evidence on the company’s website that proves it’s just as powerful an antibacterial agent as the toxic brand name cleaners, and most importantly, it smells much nicer too.

I don’t know that I’m quite secure enough to eat an entire stir-fry off my bathroom floor, but if I did, at least it would probably have a nice coconut aftertaste. Oh, and I will of course reuse the bottle when it’s finished rather than buy a new one.

Stir it up, then reuse it (Day 126)…

July 4, 2007


This might just be the simplest, most ridiculously easy change yet — so get ready to roll your eyes, flick your wrist and say “Oh puh-lease, come on!”

Well, here goes nothing: As of today, whenever I use a fork or spoon to stir something, I’m going to use that same piece of cutlery to eat whatever I just stirred. So, if I’ve got a pot of rice that I’ve just fluffed up with a fork, that same fork will used to eat it five minutes later. If I’ve just made a bunch of tabbouleh and mixed it around with a spoon, that same spoon will be used… well, you get the idea.

Knives won’t come into play, really, because as my mother has always warned me, “Stir with a knife, stir up strife!” And who wants strife?

(Although, if I’m slicing or dicing in the preparation stage I’ll of course use that knife to eat, too… unless it was a chef’s knife, or a cleaver, or one of those serrated bread knives, in which case that might be a little awkward)

Some of you may wonder why I wasn’t doing this anyway, and to be honest I often would. But there are times when the utensil gets a little gunked up, then sits on the counter for 20 minutes, and when I’ve got a nice fresh plate I sometimes want nice fresh cutlery to go with it.

But not anymore — I hereby promise, no matter how gunky, I’ll take one for the team, tough it out and reuse that fork, damnit!

Photo courtesy of photo-steve on Flickr

From record album to photo album (Day 121)…

June 29, 2007

photo album

After months of searching for an eco-friendly photo album and coming up with nothing but plastic-coated this and ugly papier-mâché that, I couldn’t believe my luck when I stumbled upon Re-cover, a company based out of Halifax, N.S., that takes old record albums — with the record still in the sleeve — and spirals them together with recycled paper to make photo albums and journals. Every one is unique; I chose the one above ’cause The Supremes are cool:

Re-cover also makes journals and notebooks made from similar materials, and all of them are geared towards different types of consumers, so whether you want a sexy address book or a cutesy photo album, chances are they’ll have it.

I’ve already started cutting and pasting all my 4 x 6 memories into my Supremes album, and they look great. While there’s authentic vinyl in the cover, there are no vinyl overlays, so I can write little notes around each picture. At $30, it’s a little pricey, but considering I’m not only helping the environment but adding to my record collection, I think it’s a steal.

A token of my eco-love (Day 119)…

June 27, 2007


Now that I’ve sold the car, I’ll be riding my bike as much as possible. However, Quentin (that’s his name) will only get me so far. Yesterday, for example, as I was cycling home from work through the ravine, an air tumor suddenly appeared in his front tire, growing and growing and finally exploding with a loud bang on a quiet residential street, forcing me to walk to the nearest streetcar stop and take the TTC the rest of the way home (using a $5 bill because that’s all I had in my wallet).

I realized then that I’d need to invest in a proper Metropass, or at least some tickets or tokens so I wouldn’t be constantly stressing out on the steps of the 501 about whether or not I had $2.75 in exact change.

Because I hope to repair Quentin as soon as possible, a Metropass might be a bit of a waste, financially. When it comes to the other options, at first it seems tickets would be the most environmentally sound, but they get thrown out after each use and probably aren’t printed on post-consumer recycled paper with soy-based ink (note to Adam Giambrone: feel free to look into this).

Tokens, on the other hand, get reused, and while I’m not exactly sure what the manufacturing process involves, I feel like something so teensie couldn’t possibly make such a big carbon footprint … but then I also like reassuring myself with sketchy logic like this, so there you go.

I think, then, that I’ll opt for the tokens, unless any public transit experts, subway-button-wearing TTC fanatics or Giambrone himself tells me otherwise in the comments below.

Take that, Magic Eraser! (Day 109)…

June 17, 2007


Sometime last year, I fell in love with the Magic Eraser. Watching as it cleaned grime from my tub in a single swipe and made the grout between my bathroom tiles as white as Ryan Seacrest‘s teeth, I’d hum the song “Do You Believe in Magic?” and silently respond, “You bet I do!”

Ah, but then the CBC came and ruined it all, pointing out that the reason it worked so well had to do with the carcinogenic tongue-twister of a chemical, formaldehyde-melamine-sodium bisulfite copolymer, which they don’t warn about on the label. Damn you, Wendy Mesley! (Although, I have to confess, I was mildly disturbed by the fact that the eraser also seemed to magically disintegrate after a few uses.)

So it was back to using a whole bucket of different cleaning products, with my primary tools being a sponge and some paper towel. I’d use the paper towels for cleaning the bathroom mirror, glass table and stove, kitchen counter, and to wipe things dry.

But then the other night, when I was at my parents’ place for dinner, my mother gave me this thing called an E-cloth, which she got from Tony at the Kitchen and Glass Place in Toronto, which is like Williams-Sonoma‘s cooler, more reasonably priced cousin. It’s made from some crazy scientific micro-fiber and promises to clean your entire house with nothing but water, so you save on paper towels and cleaning products.

Pshht, yeah right, I thought. Mom totally got suckered.

Still, I decided to try it out this weekend anyway, just so I could report back to her the extent to which she’d been suckered, and whoa — hold the phone. This thing kicks serious Sunday chores ass! I tested it out on the counter top: Good. Then I ran it over my stainless steel fridge: Excellent. Then I bolted upstairs to try it on my sink and tiles: Perfect.

I couldn’t believe it. This thing cleaned everything without leaving a single streak, and I barely had to run it over any surface twice. I didn’t use a single paper towel or any product, just water.

So my green change today is to only use cloths like these for household cleaning; no more paper towels.